“In a square meter of soil one could find 1010 bacteria, 109 protozoa, 5 million nematodes, 100K mites, 50K springtails, 10K rotifiers and tardigrades, 5K insects, myriapods, spiders and diplurans, 100 slugs and snails and one, just one vertebrate—possibly the farmer or the dog.” – James B. Nardi, Life in the Soil
The incredible diversity of life that exists in even a small patch of living soil is the secret of evolutionary success of all species on Earth. No individual, nor any species lives in isolation. All are a part of the intricate web of life, the living network of biological, chemical and physical interactions.
Only one species deliberately ignores this simple fact, the inaccurately named Homo sapiens, supposedly the thinking ape.
“This is the assembly of life that took a billion years to evolve. It has eaten the storms-folded them into its genes-and created the world that created us. It holds the world steady.” ― Edward O. Wilson
As humans thoughtlessly consume the planet, we break the bonds of the web of life. We isolate habitats through clear-cutting, road building, surface mining, building construction, and agriculture. We destroy species through overhunting and overfishing, tearing great gaps in the web. We unquestioningly convert the Earth and its living skin into commodities for human consumption and profit.
“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
― Aldo Leopold
As if that were not enough, we humans attack and destroy each other, depleting the rich diversity of cultures that have developed ways of living in place, in cooperative, bioregional social organization, in subsistence patterns in tune with the diversity of life in which they live.
“Just as the natural environment depends on biodiversity, so the human environment depends on cultural diversity, because no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.” ― Jonathan Sacks,
If humans are to retain a place in the web of life, we will have to develop bioregional approaches to our relationships with ourselves and with all other species, in diverse, complex, and far more interesting societies than the one culture that dominates the world today.
“…in Wildness is the preservation of the World.”
― Henry David Thoreau,